Sunday, 25 April 2010
Icelandic Ash Cloud: No-Problem, Reaction, Solution
The ash cloud that never was: How volcanic plume over UK was only a twentieth of safe-flying limit and blunders led to ban
By David Rose, Matt Sandy and Simon Mcgee for the Daily Mail
The Mail on Sunday can today reveal the full extent of the shambles behind the great airspace shutdown that cost the airlines £1.3 billion and left 150,000 Britons stranded - all for a supposed volcanic ash cloud that for most of the five-day flights ban was so thin it was invisible.
As the satellite images of the so-called 'aerosol index' published for the first time, right, demonstrate, the sky above Britain was totally clear of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull volcano.
Open skies: A sequence of images taken from space showing the 'aerosol index', the concentration of particles of ash or other pollution in the atmosphere. On April 15, the Icelandic volcano plume is clearly visible as a streak of orange, or 4.0 on the scale. Scientists say that anything more than a 2.0 - shown here as yellow - could indicate ash. The maps make it clear that for most of the shutdown, ash was visible over only small parts of Britain, and on some days, there was none at all
Inquiries by this newspaper have disclosed that:
- Attempts to measure the ash's density were hampered because the main aircraft used by the Meteorological Office for this purpose had been grounded as it was due to be repainted.
- Computers at the Met Office, which earlier forecast a 'barbecue summer' last year and a mild winter for this year, produced a stream of maps predicting the ash would cover a vast area, eventually stretching from Russia to Newfoundland. But across almost all of it, there was virtually no ash at all, and none visible to satellites.
- Though there was some ash over Britain at times during the ban, the maximum density measured by scientists was only about one twentieth of the limit that scientists, the Government, and aircraft and engine manufacturers have now decided is safe.
'We never understood why a blanket ban had been imposed - something that would not have happened in other parts of the world,' a senior airline executive said yesterday.
EU wants united airspace after ash cloud
(Reuters) - European authorities have seized on this week's airline crisis to fast-track their control of airspace, but they appear to have less interest in helping airlines pay the bills left by the volcanic ash cloud.
European transport commissioner Siim Kallas will next week present recommendations learned from a week of aviation chaos, which the airline industry says cost it about $1.7 billion in lost revenue, though it also saved some $660 million in costs such as fuel.
Unifying Europe's airspace is likely to top the list of proposals ahead of a meeting of EU transport ministers on May 4.
"We need a fast coordinated European response to such crises," said Kallas. "Instead we have a fragmented patchwork of 27 national airspaces. Without a central regulator, Europe was operating with one hand behind its back."
Kallas' predecessors have been trying to unite Europe's airspace for the last decade under the "Single Sky Package," which would streamline the 27 national airspaces to just nine by June 2012.
"I don't think we can afford to wait that long," said Kallas. "I want to start work to fast-track the Single Skies project."
Previous efforts have been hampered by member nations' reluctance to cede control.
(Note: I hope you can decipher that MSM barf into plain English?)
Prob-Problem Reaction Solution ;)
"This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken, the pieces are in flux, soon they will settle again; Before they do, let us re-order this world around us." - Tony Blair, October 2001
"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before" - Rahm Emanuel, November 2008
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